Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')
As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
1. “A list of all Hikvision products you fprce owns or operates
2. A list of all "advanced CCTV" products your council owns or operates - examples of these include products that go beyond mere video recording and storing or those that have features such as temperature scanning, facial recognition, crowd monitoring [this list is illustrative]
3. Data Protection Impact Assessments for all of these products your council uses
4. Contracts for these product's supply - prices can be redacted”
To note we have taken your submission to relate to Northumbria Police, and not ‘your council’ as per your submission. Our response therefore relates to Northumbria Police held information only.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police.
I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.
With regards to overt use, we can respond as follows.
1. CCTV only.
2. No information held. As above CCTV only.
3. No information held. We do not hold individual Data Impact assessments for equipment.
4. As the information you have requested at this point is accessible by other means I have not provided you with a copy of the information and will rely on Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. You should therefore consider this a refusal for this part of your request.
I have provided an explanation to this exemption below.
Section 21 (1) - Information accessible by other means
Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant is exempt information.
This information is published and therefore accessible by other means, and can be found on the Blue Light Procurement Database at the link below:
With regards to covert use of such technology, we shall neither confirm nor deny any other information is held by virtue of the following exemptions:
S24(2) - National Security
S31(3) - Law Enforcement
Any disclosure under FOI is a release to the public at large. Whilst not questioning the motives behind this specific request, confirming or denying that any information relating to the any possible covert practice of facial recognition would show those who pose a risk to national security what the capacity, tactical abilities and capabilities of Northumbria Police are, allowing them to target specific areas of the UK to conduct/undertake their criminal/terrorist activities.
Confirming or denying the specific circumstances in which the Police Service may or may not deploy the use of advanced CCTV products ie facial recognition etc, would be likely to lead to an increase of harm to covert investigations and compromise law enforcement. This would be to the detriment of providing an efficient policing service and a failure in providing a duty of care to all members of the public.
The threat from terrorism cannot be ignored. It is generally recognised that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and unpredictable. Since 2006, the UK Government has published the threat level, based upon current intelligence and that threat is currently categorised as ‘substantial’, see below link:
The UK continues to face a sustained threat from violent extremists and terrorists. It is well established that police forces use covert tactics and surveillance to gain intelligence in order to counteract criminal behaviour. It has been previously documented in the media that many terrorist incidents have been thwarted due to intelligence gained by these means.
Confirming or denying whether any information is or is not held relating to the covert use of such technology would limit operational capabilities as criminals/terrorist would gain a greater understanding of the police’s methods and techniques, enabling offenders to take steps to counter them. It may also suggest the limitations of police capabilities in this area, which may further encourage criminal/terrorist activity by exposing potential vulnerabilities.
This detrimental effect is increased if the request is made to several different law enforcement bodies. In addition to the local criminal fraternity now being better informed, those intent on organised crime throughout the UK will be able to ‘map’ where the use of certain tactics may or may not be deployed. This can be useful information to those committing (or those intent on committing or planning) crime. It would have the likelihood of identifying location-specific operations which would ultimately compromise police tactics, operations and future prosecutions as criminals could counteract the measures used against them.
Any information identifying the focus of policing activity could be used to the advantage of terrorists or criminal organisations. Information that undermines the operational integrity of these activities will adversely affect public safety and have a negative impact on both National Security and Law Enforcement.
Please note this response should therefore not be taken to as an indication of whether or not the further information is held, other than what we have confirmed is held within this response for your questions.